There are few purees of anything that I like, because purees obliterate the textural values of food. There are some notable exceptions, one of them being the mashed potatoes, and another any partly or wholly pureed bean, such as the kind that I add to soups or the dried fava bean puree with broccoletti rapa in one of my previous books.
Celery root I had never liked in any form, let alone mashed, because it is usually so bland. Yet, during an exchange of gastronomic ideas I had once with a wine producer at the annual wine fair held in Verona, the description he proffered of this celery root puree with olive paste seemed worth acting upon. I have now made it several times for the family and included it occasionally when I had guests for dinner, and each time I taste it with surprise and pleasure in equal measure. It has to be the black olives, an example of the catalytic effect an ingredient can have on another, inducing it to release qualities one never suspected it possessed.
© 1997 Marcella Hazan estate. All rights reserved.